The data collection process can be relatively simple depending on the type of data collection tools required and used during the research. Data collection tools are instruments used to collect information for performance assessments, self-evaluations, and external evaluations. The data collection tools need to be strong enough to support what the evaluations find during research. Here are a few examples of data collection tools used within three main categories.
Data collection tools involving secondary participation require no direct contact to gather information. Examples of secondary data collection tools would include:
- Postal mail
- Electronic mail
- Web-based surveys
These data collection tools do not allow the researcher to truly gauge the accuracy of the information given by the participants who responded.
Data collection tools used in personal contact observations are used when there is face to face contact with the participants. Some examples of this type of data collection tool would include:
- In-person surveys – used to gain general answers to basic questions
- Direct or participatory observations – where the researcher is directly involved with the study group
- Interviews – used to gain more in depth answers to complex questions
- Focus groups – where certain sample groups are asked their opinion about a certain subject or theory
These data collection tools not only allow for a true measurement of accuracy but also let the researcher obtain any unspoken observations about the participants while conducting research.
Case Studies And Content Analysis
Case studies and content analysis are data collection tools which are based upon pre-existing research or a search of recorded information which may be useful to the researcher in gaining the required information which fills in the blanks not found with the other two types during the data collection process. Some examples of this type of data collection tool would include:
- Expert opinions – leaders in the field of study
- Case studies – previous findings of other researchers
- Literature searches – research articles and papers
- Content analysis of both internal and external records – documents created from internal origin or other documents citing occurrences within the research group
These three data collection tools are the primary sources for gaining information during research. The most effective being the In-Person Observations with the use of Case Studies and analysis for verification resources. While each type of data collection tool can be used alone, most often they are used in either combination or conjunction with each other in various ways.